PowerPC 750 processor powering the Mars' Perseverance probe
PowerPC 750 processor powering the Mars' Perseverance probe

NASA uses a single-core 233MHz processor and only 6 million PowerPC 750 transistors (fed by the iMac G3 in 1998) to power the Perseverance probe on Mars.

Although the new Mars probe is the most advanced device to have ever reached Mars, its performance is on par with the processor Apple used in the 1990s.

Granted, NASA's budget is to get a $ 500 Intel Core i9-10900K processor with 10 cores and a 5.3GHz frequency as part of Probe's $ 2.7 billion purchase budget.

But as New Scientist has pointed out, this advanced chip is not conducive to the unique operating conditions of Mars.

This is mainly because Mars' atmosphere is less protected from harmful radiation and charged particles than Earth's atmosphere.

Intense radiation explosions can seriously damage sensitive electronic devices in modern processors. The more complex the chip, the more errors.

Additionally, in the event of a malfunction, NASA was unable to switch processors at 138 million miles.

Because of these circumstances, the detector contains two processing units: one is a backup copy in case a problem occurs and the other is a third copy of the unit that can be used for analysis. picture.

To make the system even more durable, Perseverance's PowerPC 750 chip differs slightly from the older iMac because it is technically a radiation-optimized version of the RAD750 chip which costs more than $ 200,000.

The PowerPC 750 chip is very popular in spacecraft. In addition to perseverance and curiosity, it also operates the Fermi Space Telescope, the Kepler Telescope, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Deep Impact Spaceship.

While this processor may be weaker than modern smartphone processors or gaming PCs, NASA's Perseverance data sheet states that this processor is better than previous vehicle processors (such as Spirit or Opportunity). It is much more powerful as it runs at 200MHz and has 2GB flash memory.

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